Resident's Car Returned from Theft Spree

Location where Thorpe’s car was stolen

Vehicle abandoned in Beacon after thieves lived in it awhile 

By Kevin E. Foley

Another chapter in the recent spurt of car thefts and break-ins closed last Friday (Aug. 19) when Putnam County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Tom Corless informed Cold Spring resident Gillian Thorpe her stolen 2001 Mercedes had been recovered. The abandoned vehicle was found crashed into a telephone pole near the Beacon Police Department headquarters on Route 9D.  Thorpe’s car was stolen in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 8 from her driveway on Whitehill Place shortly after another vehicle, stolen from the Cold Spring Metro-North parking lot, hit a tree on Route 9D across from Little Stony Point.

Thorpe said the unknown perpetrators had apparently lived in her car for a few days. “The inside was bad; food wrappers, empty soda cans, deodorant etc.,” she said in an email. Thorpe will require a new windshield and some bodywork before her car is back on the road. Relieved her car was found and grateful for the work of the Sheriff’s Department, Thorpe said she was also appreciative of “the numerous offers of vehicles and kind words from neighbors and friends.”  Asked by for any life lessons from the incident Thorpe replied: “Just look at the local news for the month, we don’t live in Mayberry. Lock your doors, cars, triple check your insurance coverage annually – oh the list goes on!”

The Cold Spring Police Department is not formally involved in the car theft investigation except where it can lend assistance through observation or information gathering. Typically the patrol-focused force refers felony cases to the Sheriff’s Department, which has the detective resources necessary. But as Officer-in-charge George Kane explained, he or one of his officers is often the first on the scene when a citizen calls for help. “A lot of these cases of theft or break-in are people not locking their cars or their houses or their businesses. We see people leaving their cars open with an iPad, telephone, even keys on the seat or a business with the back door open and the cash register not secured,” he said. Kane said he understood the generally peaceful, low crime atmosphere relaxed resident’s guard. “But people have to understand that leaving doors unlocked with valuable property in sight can be very inviting to youngsters walking around at night with nothing to do,” he said.

New techniques for crime tracking
During an interview with Kane mentioned a new advancement to aid law enforcement in the search for stolen or suspicious vehicles – enhanced license plate reader technology.  When installed in a police vehicle, a reader’s cameras can scan the license plates of surrounding vehicles while the police car patrols through an area. “Before a car is in the rearview mirror the system can search through the database and alert an officer to whether the car is stolen, the driver’s license is suspended, the vehicle is wanted for a crime or even whether a vehicle’s owner is violating an ‘order of protection’ by being in the location,” said Kane.  Currently the Sheriff has one of these very expensive devices and occasionally the Cold Spring force gets to borrow it.  Kane said he hopes one day to secure a law enforcement grant to obtain one permanently.  He will not have to go far to place an order. The leading manufacturer of such devices is ELSAG North America, with headquarters in Brewster, Putnam County, New York.
Photo by K.E.Foley

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